Ascend Online

Luke Chmilenko

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“Rah!” I let out a loud grunt as I swung my fist through the air, feeling the telltale buzz of my haptic glove shoot up my arm as my fist passed through the jaw of the shimmering opponent in front of me. A heartbeat later the simulation reeled backwards as I quickly followed up with a combination of punches, breaking through my virtual opponent’s defense.
I ducked under a wild punch, feeling a slight buzz in my headgear, telling me the attack had barely grazed the side of my head. My leg shot forward, landing a vicious strike against the simulated boxer’s side, sending him crashing into the ground. I raised my fist to strike down at my fallen opponent when the program paused itself, a sudden buzzing sound filling my ears as a message scrolled across the Augmented Reality goggles I wore.

INCOMING CALL: PETER
ACCEPT? / REJECT?

“Ugh, Peter has to be the only person who still uses a phone to call people.” With a small grunt of annoyance, I sucked in a deep breath, feeling sweat run down my back as I forced myself upright. I cleared my throat before answering the call.

“Accept.”

“Peter?” I said after my earpiece beeped, indicating the line was connected.

“Yo, Marc.” The voice behind the phone sounded rushed, excited. “Where are you?”

“Eh? I’m exercising in the ARES at my gym. What’s up? You’re up pretty early for you, is everything okay?” I asked, concerned. Peter was one of my best friends, but he was a night owl. Having him awake this early in the morning was unusual.

“The ARES?” Peter sounded confused for a moment. “Oh right, that Augmented Reality training thing!”

“Yeah, and I was winning too.” I breathed, letting some of the annoyance creep into my voice. “What’s up? You okay?”

“Yeah man, I’m fucking great! I’m calling because I’ve got news! Huge news!” He paused for a moment to take a breath.

“Creative Tech just announced a new title, this time; it’s a VRMMORPG!”

“Sweet shit Peter! Did you just call me for that?!” I said rolling my eyes, as I looked at the frozen simulation in front of me.

“Announcing means they’re still years away from a product, and VR is a flop. VisionQuest tried it, failed miserably, and that was in development for fifteen years! Hell, the best they could do with their tech was to repurpose it for these ARES rooms anyway.”

“Why all the hype now?” I asked, while internally thinking ‘Why are you calling me about this?’

“Because they are releasing tomorrow.” I could hear the smugness in Peter’s voice.

“What?! How?!”

“I know, right?” Peter spoke quickly, excitement evident in his voice. “The only bit of information we have is that there’s a stream scheduled for noon today, and that more information will be available afterwards. A ton of hype has started building on the net about it already and the news has only been out less than an hour.”

I looked at the frozen simulation before me, remembering the slight delay that all ARES had. I sighed and began stripping my haptic gloves off. “Alright man, color me interested, I’ve been looking for a new fix anyway. What’s the game called?”

“Ascend Online.”

Ascend Online Description:

Ascend Online, a new online virtual reality video game, which fully immerses the player into a fantasy virtual world, is launched on an unsuspecting public, promising an experience like no other to gamers around the world.

Two friends, Marcus and Peter, hear about the game’s impending release and gather their group of friends, intent on being among the first to dive into this strange new phenomenon. But no sooner are they inside it than Marcus is separated from the others, as he is thrown into a remote village under attack by a horde of goblins.

Forced into battle, Marcus rallies the beleaguered villagers and with their help, manages to slay the invading creatures. But with their supplies spoiled and the village in ruins, the survivors turn to Marcus for help in rebuilding their village, lest they die of starvation.

With the weight of a village on his shoulders, Marcus begins to explore the new world around him, quickly discovering that goblins are the least of his problems, as he finds himself beset by giant spiders and being hunted by a mysterious creature that wants him dead at any cost.

After days of travel, his friends arrive in the nick of time, bringing a dire warning that new players have entered the game and are killing and plundering without mercy.

Pressed on all sides, Marcus and his friends are swept up into a whirlwind of adventure as they try to protect and rebuild their new village.

Will Marcus and his friends survive? Or will all their hard work be for nothing?

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